Tuesday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets is setting up to be a tank-off of epic proportions.
The Sixers, losers of three straight and current owners of the fifth best lottery odds, are doing their best to keep the New York Knicks at arm’s length while also gaining ground on the Orlando Magic. On the other hand, the streaking Brooklyn Nets are doing their best to stave off a late (but unlikely) push from the Phoenix Suns, who are 3.5 games back with five to go.
Both teams faced off less than a week ago in Brooklyn, where Philadelphia came away with a 106-101 victory. Dario Saric paced the Sixers with 23 points, and Robert Covington added 21 points of his own despite shooting just 1-6 from beyond the arc. Remarkably, the Sixers are actually worse off than they were five days ago. Covington is now done for the season after being diagnosed with a “slight” meniscus tear. The team also opted to shut down Jahlil Okafor as well. After spending most of last week with just eight healthy bodies, the team was granted a hardship waiver to sign power forward Alex Poythress, who added 11 points and three rebounds in 24 minutes of work in his debut against the Toronto Raptors. Not bad for his first night on the job.
The Nets are currently in the midst of just their second winning streak of the season, with the first coming less than two weeks ago. On the back of Brook Lopez, Brooklyn knocked off the Orlando Magic 121-111 on Saturday, and then took down the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday by a score of 91-82. Over those two games Lopez put up a combined 59 points on 24-45 shooting (5-13 from three), 12 rebounds, six assists and seven blocks.
Despite heading into what will be their third game in four days, head coach Kenny Atkinson has no interest in shutting down the team’s big guns.
Atkinson said #Nets wont shut down starters. Want to finish strong for offseason momentum. Brook Lopez’ pursuit of team scoring mark is safe— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) April 1, 2017
That means the Sixers depleted front line of Richaun Holmes and Shawn Long will have another go at the 7-footer who dropped 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists on them at the end of March. Holmes and Long will really need to be wary of the 29-year-old’s penchant to launch threes. He’s shooting 35.1 percent from beyond the arc this season, and knocked down three of his seven attempts against Philadelphia as a trailer while the Sixers defense hugged the paint.
Looking around the league on Tuesday, the Magic are facing off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks will be playing the Chicago Bulls, and the Sacramento Kings will take on the Dallas Mavericks.
It’s quite possible all of those games do not go the Sixers way (an ideal outcome would be for both the Magic and Knicks to win and the Kings to lose), so a loss to the Nets is looking pretty imperative.
Anyone be opposed to 48 minutes of Poythress?
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: CSN Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic